The Titans are in First Place in the Sunbelt League and will Face Lakeside Wednesday
By: Derryl Trujillo, Inland Empire Sports & News
Twelve days ago Temescal Canyon’s softball team was down to their last six outs trailing 3-0 to Paloma Valley at home. The Titans put together seven runs over their final two at bats and prevailed 7-3 in that first matchup.
For Monday’s rematch the Titans would not need late game heroics as they put four runs across in their part of the second to take control and win 8-5 in Menifee. Temescal Canyon sweeps the season series with Paloma Valley and are now two games clear of the Wildcats halfway thru league play. They hold a game lead over Heritage whom they’ll play next week.
After Paloma Valley (13-8, 3-2) starting pitcher Cassidy Holmgren retired Temescal Canyon (12-7, 5-0) in order to open Monday’s game, the Wildcat offense went to work and gave her a 1-0 lead after a inning. Ryen Smith got on base with a two out single. Emily Bemi reached base on a Titan fielding error which scored Smith and Bailey Mylles ended the threat with a fly out to right field.
It was the second inning which doomed Paloma Valley on Monday. Hailey Cassidy led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch to reach base. Kimberly Hofmeister reached base on an error and Julissa Gomez was walked to load the bases with no one out.
Ciara Jensen ,who also was Monday’s starting pitcher for the Titans, hit a bases clearing triple to give Temescal Canyon a
3-0 lead. An infield single from Briana Ramirez scored a fourth Titans run before Paris Nguyen grounded out to finish the inning. In the Wildcat second, Alexis Velotta reached base with a two out single but was stranded as Kamryn Davis could not run out a bunt to end the inning.
After being walked to lead off the third Hofmeister was thrown out stealing. Holmgren then induced two straight popups to finish the inning. Paloma Valley gave themselves another great scoring opportunity in their half of the 3rd. Jeralynn Wells led off the inning by flying out to right field. With one out the Wildcats got a single from Josie Gonzalez along with a double from Ryen Smith to create a two on one out situation. Emily Bemi flew out to right field and a runner was thrown out to end the inning but not before a second Wildcat run crossed the plate making it 4-2 after three innings.
Jensen led off the Titans fourth with a double. After consecutive infield pop outs Briana Ramirez hit another double scoring Matyson Michalski (who entered as a courtesy runner for Ciara Jensen). The inning ended with another infield pop up from Kayla Tadewosian.
With one out in the Wildcat fourth Kenna Shernicoff would reach base by hitting a triple. She would score off a single from Velotta making it 5-3 Temescal Canyon after four innings.
Runs kept on coming for the Titans offense in their part of inning five. Nguyen led off the inning with a double then tagged up to second base on a flyout from Cassidy. Hofmeister reached on a walk giving Temescal Canyon runners on first and second with one out. Consecutive singles from Jensen and Megan Levias would score the runners and stake the visitors to a 7-3 lead thru five innings.
Jensen retired Paloma Valley in order with a ground out, fly out, and ground out. In the sixth Temescal Canyon gave themselves another scoring opportunity but couldn’t convert. Ramirez led off the inning and reached base on an infield single. A Cassidy single put runners on first and second with two outs before Hofmeister grounded out to end the threat. Jensen retired the side in order during Paloma’s half of the sixth on two groundouts and a pop out.
Things would get really interesting in the seventh inning. Temescal Canyon scored one more run off an infield single. Taylor Pina Thompson scored when Gomez reached with a leadoff double. Down to their final three outs Paloma Valley trailed 8-3 but would not go down without a fight.
With one out, Velotta and Davis reached base off a single and infield single . Wells was then hit by a pitch loading the bases with one out. Josie Gonzalez grounded out but drove in two runs reducing the deficit to 8-5. Then Smith flew out to end the game.
I had the chance to chat with Titans coach Ryan Hambright after Monday’s win. My first question for him was about that game twelve days ago and what his team was able to bring forward into this match up. He remarked “We came in knowing Paloma Valley had a good team. They had to battle and do a lot of things right. We preach doing the small things right and we were able to do that down the stretch in our first meeting & today. I’m really proud of them.”
Ciara Jensen’s fingerprints were all over this game as both a hitter (4-4 with 4 RBI’s) and the Titans starter (Complete Game, 5 runs on 8 Wildcat hits, no strikeouts). About her day Hambright said “It’s been nice to have her as a two way player. In the circle she does a great job of keeping hitters off balance and obviously you saw what she’s capable of at the plate. We’re excited to have her for two more years.”
Lakeside is next up for the Titans and I asked their skipper about what was going to have to happen to bring the girls back and get ready for the Lancers. He stated: “So luckily tomorrow we have a day to prepare at practice and come back from this. We say that each day is the most important day of the season so we’ll start with that and go from there.”
Ciara Jensen also came over for a post game chat. About her keys to success at the plate the sophomore remarked “I knew that confidence was mainly my issue all these years. Recently I’ve worked on trying to boost myself and strengthening the mental side, making sure I believe I can hit any pitcher they throw at me.”
Part of the rules for transfers require a 30 day sit out period which ended April 2. Jensen remarked about how hard it was to just be a spectator for that stretch “It was very frustrating honestly. I was still happy to cheer for my team and now I get to play with them and its been a great experience.”
When asked what she learned about her team from that previous encounter with Paloma Valley the sophomore would state “We just knew we couldn’t give up. I learned that we are quite resilient and always going to fight together no matter score.”